Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home Living: Home for the Holidays

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home Living: Home for the Holidays

Article excerpt

The fourth home, not the third, was actually "the charm" for Kim Taylor when she found the house in east Topeka she is spending her first holidays in as a new homeowner.

"This is the one I was supposed to have," said Taylor, referring to her dark beige, ranch-style house she has owned since early May. "I'm so comfortable. I paid attention to wait for the right one."

Describing herself as "very patient" and "very picky", Taylor said participating in the "Topeka Opportunity to Own", known as TOTO, homebuyers' program has been a blessing.

"Owning my own home," she said, "has been such a comfort to me. I'm much happier here."

Taylor, who grew up in Tecumseh and provides comfort as a caregiver for Home Instead, an in-home service for seniors, said she was pre-qualified by the TOTO program for two years and had put offers that fell through at the last minute on three homes. However, when she looked at the three-bedroom house she now shares with her five-year-old white male cat named, "Mr. Nelson," she knew it was the one.

"It had good bones to it," Taylor said of the house built in the early 1960s. "It had the kind of structure and layout that I wanted. It has just the right amount of yard space for me to garden."

Having gone through the TOTO program, created in the early 1990s by Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., or HCCI, Taylor said she knew what parameters to work within to buy her own home. Some of the requirements include attending homebuyer classes, having a good credit history, providing a down payment of $500 and the selling price of the house can't be more than $65,000.

Once qualified, the TOTO participant is eligible to receive a $30,000 loan that Taylor describes as a "soft second mortgage" which is used to make the house code compliant and energy efficient. That could mean replacing the windows, water heater and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, of HVAC, system. If there is any money left over after making the necessary improvements from the initial $30,000, Taylor said that balance is applied to the mortgage, reducing the monthly house payments.

"That was such a blessing," she said. "That made my payment even more manageable."

Taylor said when she moved into her home last spring, one of the first projects was gutting the main bathroom which had a configuration she charitably described as being "odd." She said the TOTO program paid for the bathroom remodel except for the bathtub.

"All I did was purchase the tub," Taylor said. "The program doesn't do bathtubs but will pay for showers."

Although the basement was mostly finished when she bought the home, Taylor said there was previous water damage to the paneling and drywall which the TOTO program paid for to repair. …

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